By JOSH FRIEDMAN
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputies arrested Paul Flores, the primary suspect in the disappearance of Kristin Smart, and his father, Ruben Flores, at separate locations Tuesday morning. Investigators are currently digging under Rubin Flores’ home in another apparent attempt to find the missing teen’s body.
Paul Flores was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area, where he resides. Authorities arrested Ruben Flores after San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant at his Arroyo Grande home.
Smart, a native of Stockton, was nearing the end of her freshman year at Cal Poly when she vanished on May 25, 1996, after attending an off-campus party. The 19-year-old was last seen in the company of then-fellow student Paul Flores, who claims he escorted Smart to her dorm, which was relatively empty over the Memorial Day weekend.
Paul Flores has long been the lone suspect in Smart’s disappearance.
In Feb. 2020, sheriff’s deputies served warrants at four locations, including at Paul Flores’s San Pedro home and the Arroyo Grande home of his mother. The same day, investigators also served warrants at an undisclosed location in SLO County and at a location in Washington State.
Authorities served another search warrant at Paul Flores’ home in April 2020.
Then in Feb. 2021, Los Angeles police officers arrested Paul Flores in Rancho Palos Verdes on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Officers booked Flores into the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center. He was soon released from custody.
Last month, deputies conducted a two-day search for Smart’s remains at the home of Ruben Flores. They used cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar to search Ruben Flores’ property. Deputies also dug in several places in search of remains.
During the search, a cadaver dog showed interest in a 1985 Volkswagen Cabriolet, which is currently registered to Ruben and Susan Flores. Deputies towed the car from Rubin Flores’ home.
At the time of Smart’s disappearance, the vehicle belonged to Paul Flores’ sister, Ermelinda Flores, who lived near Cal Poly. After Smart’s disappearance, the car was transferred into their parents’ names.
The SLO County Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the case.